Fennel with Champagne Sauce and Griddled Polenta

For a luxurious vegetarian dish try Simon Rimmer's fennel recipe, a delicious combination of flavours and textures
By Simon Rimmer
Fennel with Champagne Sauce and Griddled Polenta
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus setting
  • Effort: medium



  • 700 ml milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 175 g quick-cook polenta
  • 125 g parmesan, grated
  • black pepper
  • 4 bulb fennel, quartered
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 50 g butter
  • 20 g honey
  • 6 baby gherkins, finely sliced
  • 200 ml champagne
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 300 g spinach leaves
  • 100 g rocket


1. In a medium saucepan heat together the milk and garlic and bring to the boil.

2. Add the instant polenta to the boiling milk, reduce the heat and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until thickened.

3. Remove the polenta from the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

4. Pour the polenta into a greased shallow dish and leave to set. Once set cut the polenta into 8 rounds using a biscuit cutter.

5. Place the fennel quarters in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper and just enough water to barely cover the fennel.

6. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes then drain.

7. In a heavy-based frying pan heat together the butter and honey until bubbling. Add the drained fennel and the gherkins, mixing well. Cook until the fennel browns slightly.

8. Add the champagne, mixing in, and cook until the liquid has reduced and thickened to a syrup.

9. Meanwhile, heat a lightly oiled griddle pan and griddle the polenta rounds, allowing 2-3 minutes per each side.

10. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the shallots and fry, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Add the baby spinach and rocket and season with salt and pepper. Fry, stirring now and then, for 2 minutes until the greens are just wilted.

11. To serve divide the glazed fennel among 4 serving plates and top with the champagne sauce. Place 2 polenta rounds on top of each fennel portion and top with the wilted greens. Serve at once.

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